Kevin Williams Prepared for Finals of Wing Open
March 4, 2009
USAFA, Colo. - Senior water polo player Kevin Williams has a new sport this spring, as he trades in his Speedo for a pair of boxing trunks. The captain of the 2008 team has advanced to the Wing Open Boxing Championships, one of the premier athletic events at the Academy. The Wing Open, currently in its 51st season, features boxers in 12 weight classes who will vie for the opportunity to represent Air Force at the regional and national championships.
"I've always talked about doing boxing after my water polo career ended," said Williams. "I had never really done an individual sport besides swimming (in high school) and thought this would be a good opportunity to try something new. I had done well in boxing class freshman year, and that gave me the motivation to go out for it."
After the fall semester--and the water polo season--ended, Williams decided to check out what boxing practice would be like. But for Williams, the most difficult aspect about making the switch from water polo to boxing was not the grueling practices. "Since I already had four years of dealing with long practices every day, there wasn't a big transition," said Williams. "The hardest part for me is the fact that this is a land sport. I have no qualms about saying it, I am better coordinated in water."
This weekend, Williams will face a formidable foe in Andrew Catoire in the 195-pound bout. While Catoire is in his fourth year on the boxing team, with a Wing Open title to his name, Williams is much less experienced, having fought just two bouts. Yet his semi-final victory to earn a berth in this weekend's championships was a dominant one, as he won with a referee-stopped-contest in the opening period.
"It's only been about a month and a half since I started but I feel like I'm picking it up relatively quickly," said Williams. "The thing I learned from water polo that applies the same to boxing is confidence. The mental edge is the biggest thing to deal with, regardless of the sport."
In part, Williams, who was standout for the Falcons in the pool over the past few years, turned to boxing in order to keep his collegiate athletic career going a little longer. In addition, he was inspired by 2001 graduate Derek Argel, a former water polo player who advanced to the Wing Open Championships as a senior. Argel, who was killed in 2005 during a mission in Iraq, now has a water polo team award named in his honor.
"A big influence on me personally was the fact that Derek Argel also participated in the Wing Open after his water polo career had ended." said Williams. "He was a great man and everyone on the water polo team looks up to him, even though we didn't personally know him."
Now with the Wing Open Championships just days away, Williams will hope to prolong his boxing career even further--and if his performance over the past four years are any indication, his goals should be well within reach.
"Kevin was a great leader and team captain this year," said water polo head coach Jeff Ehrlich. "It does not surprise me that with his work ethic, he was able to make it to the Wing Open. Falcon water polo wishes him the best."